The idiot who said you should only eat oysters in months with an R in their names can give me his serving, please. He’s just wrong, and authorities as wise as food writer M.F.K. Fisher (whose 1941 hymn to the trans-sexual bivalve, Consider the Oyster, is a revelation) and the National Fisheries Institute will back me up on this. Enjoy these tidal wonders year ’round—just make sure they’re very fresh.
New Yorkers have always treasured their mollusks—though in truth Long Island’s Oyster Bay was named for its shape, not for the mollusks found there. A century ago you could get a plate of freshly shucked bluepoints free for the price of a beer at certain downtown establishments; today, if you find a dozen Wellfleets for under a twenty you’re golden. As with relationships, the good ones are worth your time, trouble, and expense. And all oysters are good ones—be they wild or cultivated, raw or cooked, served plain or doused with fresh lemon juice, tangy cocktail sauce, or fresh grated horseradish.
The grande dame of New York seafood restaurants is the OYSTER BAR at Grand Central Terminal [212-490-6650], which since 1913 has offered a vast daily selection of raw beauties on the half-shell, along with pan roasts (a very rich, cream-based stew) and sumptuous baked and fried oyster dishes. Less atmospheric—but just as good, and much cheaper—is JORDAN’S LOBSTER DOCK [3165 Harkness Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-934-6300], a no-frills Sheepshead Bay joint that features a small selection of very fresh, exquisite oysters daily at $12.95 a dozen. The West Village’s dainty, newish PEARL OYSTER BAR [18 Cornelia Street, 212-691-8211] has a more eclectic menu, and their fried oyster roll seems an acceptable substitute for that really good po’boy I’ve yet to find north of the Mason-Dixon. Just don’t get me started on the rarest of oyster dishes: the Hangtown fry.